After leaving Colorado in mid-November, headed west, I admit to wishing 2017 was over. Bye. Bye.Vamoose. That was but a fleeting thought, however, as I joyfully celebrated Thanksgiving, had dinner with Henderson neighbors, saw “It’s a Wonderful Life” on the big screen and made plans for the busy holiday season.

SALADE de FENOUIL, RADIS, ORANGE et CRABE (Fennel, radish, orange and crab salad) by David Lebovitz, My Paris Kitchen cookbook.

Shortly after Thanksgiving, however, I suffered one of those What Just Happened? accidents and came up lame. Yeah, kinda like a horse. My right knee twisted awkwardly, audibly creaking. Unable to walk I hopped over to plop in a chair and ponder the possibilities.

Long story short. Nothing broken or torn. Nothing that couldn’t be fixed by rest, ice packs and therapy. Rather than cooking for friends, birding at the local preserve and enjoying this city, I detoured to homebound.

The late writer and editor, Judith Jones, who discovered Julia Child and saved The Diary of Anne Frank from the reject pile, was an excellent cook. She called leftovers, “second runs.” With my leftover fresh crab from the salad, I made plump, delicious crab cakes.


Ironically, late actors Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed (another Iowa girl) inspired the medicine which lifted my spirits. Do you recall Frank Capra’s Christmas classicIt’s a Wonderful Life?” It’s plot is about helping a beleaguered George Bailey (Stewart’s character) who is contemplating suicide, realize how many lives he has changed and impacted in the tiny town of Bedford Falls, and how each would be different if he was never there.

New Years breakfast with our former next door neighbors, Adriana & Bobby Scrima. For the 8 years we lived next door, we broke bread and celebrated many special occasions at this table. Adriana’s father,Tony, died just before Christmas. I was glad to be here. Adriana (l) and her mother, Pina.

My last lunch with Pina before my leaving for California. She and Tony had been married for 57 years! Adriana & Bobby had just finished remodeling their home so her parents could live with them. Over Christmas Pina joined them. (L) our friend, Amalia

My Christmas home in Anthem Country Club


Flipping the plot, I resurrected 2017, sorting through calendars, notes and 30+ blog posts to see how MY life had been impacted by friends, strangers and experiences. Instead of looking at 2017’s big picture, it might be better to remember my year’s smaller one. As I began jotting down a list the domino effect clicked into high gear, offering up a surprising dose of gratitude each day.

To my mind the saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” is wrong. Life is bits of small stuff. It’s about fitting those pieces together successfully and remembering to say Thank You.

I realized during this recent exile of inactivity 2017, albeit challenging for me, was actually a year to be personally celebrated, filled with good times, experiences and a wide expanse of friends who share passions which enhance my life. There was learning, books, classes and travel. Love, joy and laughter. Mountains hiked. Music enjoyed. A total eclipse. My lifestyle revolves around making, sharing and writing about food, hobnobbing virtually as well as personally with talented people throughout the world who offer me good will.

I bared the sorrow of losing too many friends. In those sad times there was always, always someone nearby to comfort, assist or level the field. I never felt alone, insecure or unprotected.

By New Year’s Eve I was good-to-go. Perhaps this was not the holiday season I wanted but it was the holiday season I needed. None of us know what 2018 will bring nor the challenges we will face. Attitude drives behavior. Resilience wins the day. Let’s figure it out.

the Super Moon, New Year’s Day evening


Our Cook the Book Friday’s luminary, author David Lebovitz, ended his own blog with a post about Panettone, an Italian sweet bread loaf akin to fruitcake but yummier. If you have some sitting on your counter, try his French toast (Pain perdu). For those of you who need a recipe for French toast, here’s David’s.

PAIN PERDU (lost bread) adapted from recipe by David Lebovitz

2 servings


2 large eggs, room temperature
6 tablespoons whole milk or heavy cream (I substituted 3 TBS with eggnog)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch salt
4 thick slices panettone, about 1 1/4-1/2 inch
butter, for frying the French toast


1. In a wide, shallow bowl, beat the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt together with a fork until well-combined. Place the slices of bread in the custard and gently press them down to help the bread absorb the custard, then turn them over the do the same to the other side of the bread.

2. Heat a good-sized pat of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the custard-soaked slices of bread to the pan and cook until they’re browned on the bottom, about 2-3 minutes. Carefully turn the slices of bread over and fry on the other side until browned on the bottom.

SERVING: Serve the French toast warm from the skillet with maple syrup, agave nectar or your favorite breakfast topping like blueberry compote or sautéed apples. The French often serve this as a dessert along with a scoop of ice cream and chocolate or caramel sauce. Whipped cream is optional.

This Panettone also had chocolate chips. I used it to make a dessert.

Pain Perdu – panettone loaded with ice cream, chocolate syrup, whipped cream and roasted nuts. It’s a little too rich and caloric for my taste.



These panettone croutons I baked have so many possibilities. Slightly fruity with a big crunch, use them as a topping, snacks or nibbles with drinks.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Scatter the 1-2 inch panettone cubes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake, tossing occasionally, until crisp and brown, about 1 hour. These croutons freeze well.

Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude. A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh


  1. says

    Happy New Year 2018! I’m so glad I was part of your 2017 travel plans. It was a joy to spend a day with you.

    I LOVE panettone and will try out the croutons. My giant panettone is disappearing little by little, but those could give it a boost.

  2. Cher says

    Happy New Year.
    Sometimes the Universe knows better than we do as to what we need. Learning to roll with it has been my challenge.
    Big hugs. XO

  3. says

    I love, love your musings. So much to think about, but Piglet’s quote may be my favorite. Nick carried a threadbare Winnie the Pooh with him to preschool and Kindergarten—he would carefully tuck Pooh under his arm to hold hands with his classmates for circle time. Pooh was his constant companion. Then there was the finger fungus from wearing 10 plastic Pooh character rings 24-7. I finally found a lanyard where he could store his rings around his neck while his hands heeled. Silly ol’ bear. Silly ol’ Nick.

    Glad your knee is OK and that you were able to connect with dear friends over the holidays. I was hoping we’d get to Colorado for a wedding this summer, but Bill is on-call. Miss seeing you, Mary! Happy, happy 2018!!

  4. Karen Carozza says

    Love this post…reminds me of all the things I am grateful for, and how we really do sometimes “sweat the small stuff” but perhaps should embrace “the small stuff”! The holiday season is wonderful, chaotic, stressful, joyful. A time to reflect, certainly. And I loved that you put a New Years tradition for our family on the blog! We are given a panettone by a special winemaker in Italy every year, and it is delicious but can never get past a few slices on New Years Eve (with the multitute of desserts people bring). So everyone who stays over wakes up to French Toast Panettone for breakfast on New Years Day. So yummy!!!!!

  5. Donna Grauer says

    I made french toast with the pannetone you gifted me one year. It was on a hut trip and the only way I could manage the guilt of that sugary buttery delight was to slap on my skis and cross country as far as my filled up tummy would take me. OMG, I still remember how incredible it tasted and seeing this picture has me salivating. There is no snow to ski on here , nor presumably in Henderson, so what is a person to do. POLITICAL ACTION is the only antidote.
    See you guys at the Women’s March where ever you might be.

  6. says

    I made panettone the project for the holidays. Succeeded and failed over the course of multiple attempts. What I learned is: persistence and resilience, for winning the day and for the long haul. How coincidental we came to the same conclusion? We need a big dose of that at this time, no doubt. Glad to hear that your knee is doing fine. The “second run” crab cakes look so yummy. Happy new year and better days ahead!

  7. Chez Nana says

    Happy New Year, Mary. I’m glad you are feeling better now and can go forward with your plans. I definitely must try the panettone french toast, that looks so good. I used my leftover crab to make delicious deviled eggs from David Tanis. Served them Christmas Eve and they were gone in no time at all. I’m looking forward to these potatoes cooked in duck fat, after seeing all the posts this week, I can’t wait.

  8. says

    Happy New Year to you dear Mary. I am sorry 2017 brought with it a lot of challenges but you faced them with your usual good nature and smile – you’re such an inspiration to us all. Also, pannetone bread pudding has GOT to make everything seem a little more cheery, right? XO

  9. says

    Mary, I’m just getting a little caught-up on posts. Happily I knew you were back on your feet! 1st, all of your dishes look terrific! I didn’t get any panettone this year, but this makes me re-think.

    I think It’s a Wonderful Life is a great movie. I can often relate to George Bailey, and his desire to “do what I want to do”! Happily you were able to find some wonderful memories from over the past year. I am always worried about my tendency to want the prior year to end.

    So special that you were able to have such a terrific time with friends. I’m sure you’ll have some pretty wonderful adventures in 2018 too!

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